What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. This week, Devin Little, Raymond Harrison, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
Over the past couple of weeks, The Hockey Writers have conducted a mock 2020 NHL Draft. I’ve been making selections on behalf of the Red Wings.
In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team analyzes my mock draft picks and shares which prospects they would have chosen instead. Additionally, THW’s prospect gurus Josh Bell and Larry Fisher join the fun.
Red Wings’ No. 1 Pick
Tony’s Selection: F Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Devin Little: I only have one question: what number does Lafreniere wear considering Filip Zadina already wears 11?
Raymond Harrison: Blasphemy, outrage, idiocy… are exactly the words I wouldn’t use to describe this pick. Lafreniere is the best player in the draft.
Josh Bell: Tony and the Red Wings nail the first pick of the draft, making the obvious choice.
Larry Fisher: No suspense here, Lafreniere is a no-brainer at No. 1 this year.
Related: Lafreniere Would Significantly Alter Red Wings’ 2020-21 Outlook
Red Wings’ No. 32 Pick
Tony’s Selection: D Emil Andrae, HV71 (SHL)
Devin Little: When I picked for the Golden Knights at No. 24, I had four players that I considered and Andrae was one of them. I support this pick, but I likely would have picked Kaiden Guhle if I were in Tony’s shoes.
Raymond Harrison: The state of the Red Wings’ blueline is in relative disarray and Andrae’s offensive creativity coupled with his great skating ability makes him a good fit for the team. I would have no quarrels with the selection of Guhle either, who went to the Senators with the next pick, but I’ll stick with Andrae.
Josh Bell: After Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson are taken off the board, it’s a bit of a mystery which defenseman will be chosen next. But for me, Andrae is a strong contender for that position. I think this is a steal at 32nd overall, but there are a few other contenders that could be in consideration. With Moritz Seider taken in 2019, I think Andrae could one day be the perfect complement to him on a future top-defensive line. Guhle and Cormier would be in consideration, but I like this pick.
Larry Fisher: Andrae is a solid pick — many mocks have him as a first-rounder — and Detroit will likely go defence to start the second round. Five others worthy of consideration based on this mock are Guhle, Lukas Cormier, Joni Jurmo, Helge Grans and Topi Niemela. Grans and Guhle, in particular, are expected to be first-rounders. I’m a big fan of Jurmo, who could be a similar high-upside pick to Antti Tuomisto in 2019.
Red Wings’ No. 51 Pick
Tony’s Selection: F Carter Savoie, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
Devin Little: This pick is right around when you start to be surprised by who is still available. I like Savoie, but not at No. 51. I likely would have chosen Ozzy Wiesblatt, who was selected by Ottawa with the very next pick.
Raymond Harrison: It would have been great if Ty Smilanic slid down a couple more picks, but with the way the board is looking, snagging Savoie here was good work. I’ll also make the case for Sam Colangelo, whose 6-foot-2 frame allows him to dominate puck possession and cycle effectively. He would fit in well with other heavy Red Wings’ forwards like Anthony Mantha and Michael Rasmussen.
Josh Bell: Savoie is one of my favourite second-round options in this draft, and I’ll have him higher than this in my final rankings. He’s very good offensively and while his goal-scoring is often highlighted, his overall offensive awareness is high-end. He needs to work on his defensive game, but he has potential for sure. Honestly, this is again the pick that I would make. Tony and I are very in sync.
Larry Fisher: Savoie makes a ton of sense for Detroit and you can bet the Red Wings are very familiar with him since they drafted his team’s goaltender Carter Gylander in 2019. They have been teammates for the past two seasons and Savoie led the team in scoring both years. Savoie was almost a goal-per-game guy in his draft year — with 53 goals in 54 games — and I’ve been comparing him to Jaden Schwartz, so Savoie should be good value at this spot. If not Savoie, I could see Colangelo as a potential target for Detroit.
Red Wings’ No. 58 Pick
Tony’s Selection: F Daniil Gushchin, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Devin Little: With the added context of knowing that Eemil Viro slid out of the second round, I’m fine with this pick. I really like Gushchin’s upside at this spot.
Raymond Harrison: A smaller, speedy Russian player with oodles of skill? Sign me up. The Red Wings need playmakers more desperately than Mickey Redmond needs ginger ale.
Josh Bell: Gushchin is definitely an exciting player who I’m convinced the Red Wings faithful would absolutely love. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him already off the board at this point, so this is another solid pick. If I was drafting, Alexander Pashin would be in strong consideration, as would Viro and Sean Farrell – who both fell out of round two. I’d be happy with this pick, but it would be hard to pass on Pashin here.
Larry Fisher: Gushchin is all kinds of fun to watch — the kind of kid you can’t help but root for — and he has been developing a few hours away with Muskegon, so Detroit has presumably seen Gushchin as much as anyone. There is a chance he’ll now head to WHL Regina and form a dynamic duo with Connor Bedard — the potential first overall pick for 2023 who was granted exceptional status for the Dub. Regardless of Gushchin’s next move, he’d become a fan favourite among Detroit’s prospect pool. I’m a huge fan of the other undersized Russian who went with the very next pick, Alexander Pashin. He’d be my guy at this spot — truth be told, I probably would have taken Pashin over Savoie as well, but I’m higher on Pashin than most as evidenced by my rankings.
Red Wings’ No. 63 Pick
With the Red Wings set to lead off the third round, here are our choices for the 63rd selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Tony Wolak: F Sean Farrell. Armed with high-end speed and exceptional vision, Farrell is a skilled, yet undersized player who could fall to the third round.
Devin Little: D Eemil Viro. I’m surprised he slid out of the second round, and the Red Wings could use another defender with good potential.
Raymond Harrison: D Tyler Kleven. Coming in at 6-foot-4, I think Kleven would be a perfect addition to a Red Wings’ team. With Hronek, Cholowski, Tuomisto, Seider, and now Andrae in the system, Kleven adds a different dynamic to the back end. The Red Wings need a physical, crease-clearing, shutdown defender and Kleven fits the bill.
Josh Bell: D Eemil Viro. As Devin said, I was surprised to see Viro slide out of the second round. He’s a player that has the full package and can be used in any situation. He’s a two-way defender that could even challenge for the top-line one day. I see him more of a top-four guy, but he has tons of potential. That being said, Farrell and Veeti Miettinen would be hard to pass up here too.
Larry Fisher: D Anton Johannesson. This small Swede has arguably the biggest upside in terms of becoming a power-play specialist and point producer from the back end. There are still so many quality options available, which speaks to the depth of this draft class, but I’d take a swing on Johannesson at this spot.